How Could Jesus Be the Only Way to God?
by Michael Horner
At the root of this question is a confusion between the admirable quality of tolerance for different views and the absurd position of the equal validity of all views. One can be tolerant by respecting the rights of others to hold alternative views without threat of violence, yet still be firmly committed to one point of view as true. The great value of tolerance in no way absolves us from resolving conflicting claims to
Sincerity of belief does not guarantee truth. One can be sincerely wrong. I may believe sincerely that a glass of liquid is water and drink it. If in fact it is hydrochloric acid, my sincere belief would have devastating consequences!
Second, the assumption by many that all religions are basically the same just doesn't square with the facts. Although there are similarities, the differences are very significant. Eastern religions teach "monism" (all is one), that each person is a part of everything, including God, and that ultimately one needs to lose oneself in "the all" like a drop of water losing itself in the ocean. Christianity, however, affirms that each person is a unique individual and will remain such after death. Christianity teaches that God loves us; an impersonal, eastern god cannot love us. Obviously all religions are not the same; they contradict one another. Therefore they cannot all be true.
Third, there is a moral gap between
each of us and God which we cannot bridge in our own power. It is like trying
to swim from the West Coast of North America to
Let's say, though, someone in a boat comes along and says he has good news? claims he can help us. "No real problem; evil is illusion," he says "mind over matter?if you don't mind it won't matter. Just meditate and you'll experience peace and tranquillity and oneness with the water." Would this be a message of good news? The last time I checked "oneness with the water" is how we define drowning!
Or maybe he remembers he has some
pamphlets on board entitled, "Ten Easy Steps on How to Swim." Tossing
them to us he tells us to merely read the pamphlet and do what it says. That's
not good news either, is it? We still won't make it to
Perhaps he decides on the more
personal touch and jumps in the water to show us how to swim. "Just cup
your hands, kick your feet and breathe like this," he says. Again this
message is not good news. It still won't get us to
In none of these four situations would the person in the boat truly be a messenger of good news! And it is exactly the same with religion if all that it offers us is:
1. A denial that there is any moral gap between us and God?telling us to just turn inward and meditate and we will become one with the universe. When we are honest with ourselves, we know we fall short of our Creator's standards.
2. A book of rules to follow (even if that book is the Bible). Our
problem is not that we don't know what we ought to do; our problem is we don't do what we know we ought to do. We need both forgiveness and help.
3. An example, a model of some religious person's life for us to
emulate (even if that person is Jesus). Again, we know what we
ought to do, but we just can't seem to do it. A religion must offer
us more than an example to follow if it is going to be real good
4. Help part of the way but insist it is our responsibility to work
for and earn the majority of the merit on our own.
The only good news he could bring us
is "Come on board. I'll take you all the way to
Jesus Christ, through His death on the cross as a substitute for you and me, has paid the penalty for our moral failure that is a result of our attitude of independence towards God. He has cleared away what was separating us from God. "For Christ died for your sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous to bring you to God" (I Peter 3:18a).
Some think God is being "narrow-minded" if Jesus is the only way. But the issue is: "Why is there any way to God?" God has been gracious and merciful to provide us with a way back to a personal relationship with Him even though we have rebelled against Him. If humankind could have reached God by any other way, God would not have sacrificed His only Son.
Rather than complain that there aren't more ways to God, the proper
response should be to marvel that there is a way and accept it with a
heart of gratitude.